3 Players St. Louis Cardinals Should Consider Dealing at the Deadline
The St. Louis Cardinals are struggling. Cardinal Nation is stirring over their beloved team’s mediocre performance through the season’s first 61 games.
The Cardinals dropped three of four to Kansas City this week and are 31-30 on the season.
"I think we all know we're not playing to our potential," Thursday's losing pitcher Michael Wacha told Rick Hummel of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
Pressure is mounting on general manager John Mozeliak, manager Mike Matheny and the players.
The Cardinals have yet to form an identity in 2014. The offense is sputtering, the defense is shaky, the rotation is inconsistent and the bullpen is exhausted.
If the Cardinals can’t get themselves out of their current funk, Mozeliak’s hand might by forced. Even if they continue to hover around .500, a deal or two at the trade deadline could provide a jolt to this club.
If Mozeliak opts to make a few trades, who are the potential candidates to trade away? And why?
Let’s take a look at a few players Mozeliak should consider dealing at the deadline.
If Mozeliak really wants to shake things up, he should take a long look at current left fielder Matt Holliday.
Holliday, 34, has two more years, including an option for 2017 left on his original seven-year, $120 million contract he agreed to in January 2010.
I realize most folks will cry foul to this, but a trade would make sense if the Cardinals end up making a major move to acquire a marquee pitcher or hitter.
Holliday represents a strong veteran presence in the Cardinals clubhouse. He’s won a World Series (2011). He plays the game the right way.
But Holliday’s prime has come and gone.
He’s struggling mightily this season, hitting .267 with three homers and 29 RBI.
Moreover, Holliday’s production at the plate has trended downward over the last five years.
Here are Holliday’s slugging percentages over the last five years:
- 2010: .532
- 2011: .525
- 2012: .497
- 2013: .490
- 2014: .369
His OPS numbers have also declined. In 2010, Holliday’s OPS was .922. Last season it was .879. This season it’s .745.
Based on this trend, trading Holliday could bode well for the Cardinals in the long run.
Jon Jay, who made 107 starts during the Cardinals’ miraculous run to their 11th World Series championship in franchise history, suddenly finds himself in a crowded outfield.
He’s competing with the likes of recent call-ups Oscar Taveras and Randal Grichuk for playing time. Then there’s Allen Craig in right field (when first baseman Matt Adams is healthy) and Matt Holliday in left. There’s also Stephen Piscotty in Triple-A Memphis, who is not too far away from getting his shot at making the team.
Jay has become an incumbent player on this ballclub. His playing time has diminished since the Cardinals acquired Peter Bourjos from the Los Angeles Angels over the offseason. In 2013, Jay started in 141 games, batted .276, hit seven home runs, drove in 67 and had a swell .351 on-base percentage.
This season has been quite different than last.
Jay has appeared in 52 games this season. He’s started 30. His .295 average looks good on paper, but it’s an outlier, considering he’s only had 129 at-bats. Jay is third on the team in OBP (.388), which is good, but the sample size is relatively small considering the descending number of at-bats he’s getting.
Bourjos has a weapon that Jay lacks: speed. That alone is a reason Bourjos is in the lineup more often than Jay.
If anything, Jay’s statistics should help Mozeliak find a trading partner. The Cardinals need help offensively. Jay doesn’t hit for power; he hits to get on base. But he’s not a regular; he’s a role player.
The Cardinals could use a bat with some pop in place of Jay.
Daniel Descalso has been all but exiled in the Cardinals infield. With Jhonny Peralta patrolling shortstop, Matt Carpenter at third and Kolten Wong and Mark Ellis platooning at second, it’s been increasingly difficult to find at-bats and playing time for Descalso.
The 27-year-old infielder has made just four starts and has appeared in 40 games this season. He’s hitting a microscopic .161.
Descalso’s value probably isn’t all that high, but if he’s included in a package deal, there’s bound to be a team that could benefit from his services.